Pilates is one of the most gentle forms of exercise that you can do, and yet it still delivers a mighty punch. The exercises help you to strengthen your muscles and your core, as well as help you to stay calm and learn how to control your body better. All of these benefits make Pilates a perfect workout for soon-to-be mothers who wish to prepare their bodies for the strenuous time that pregnancy is and make the delivery a bit easier. These 7 simple exercises are best for ensuring that your pregnancy and labour are as comfortable as possible.
There are so many health benefits of exercising while pregnant, and strengthening your obliques is definitely one of them. These muscles help to hold your baby in place, so they are currently doing a lot of work! Kneel on a long box to start. Do a straight leg sweep followed by a side kick, alternating between these movements and between legs. Use your glutes to extend your legs, and don’t arch your lower back.
2. The Sword
This exercise will strengthen your back and legs for the long pregnancy and that heavy weight, and will also improve your balance. Stand with your feet wider than hip width apart, bend your knees, and turn your feet out to a comfortable position. Then put your hands on your hips. First, bend your knees and sweep your right hand toward your left knee, looking down. Sweep the right arm upwards and to the right, as if you are drawing a sword out of a scabbard to hold it above your head. Follow the movement with your head as well. Repeat on both sides!
3. Wag the Tail
Strengthen your lower back and abs with this exercise, starting on all fours. Align your wrists under your shoulders and draw your stomach in. Lift one knee up and to the side like a dog, without shrugging your shoulders. Draw circles with your knee in the air. Switch sides when you have completed your reps.
4. Sword Arm
Strengthen your arms and back ready for carrying baby with this technique. Kneel on your right knee with your right hand on the floor, under your shoulder. Extend your left leg out with your foot on the floor, and pull your abs in. Reach to the floor with your left hand, then exhale and raise your arm to the sky. Turn your head with your hand and open up your chest. Lower the hand then repeat, and switch sides. You can also do this one with a Pilates band.
This one will help strengthen your abdomen and your pushing muscles, but don’t attempt it if your belly is too large for it to be comfortable. Curl up with your head on a mat and your knees in the air above you, bent at an angle. Swing forward as you inhale, then exhale as you swing back. Control the movement carefully.
6. Cat Cow Stretch
This exercise will help you to keep your pelvis loose and your lower back nice and limber. It may even help with the pain of contractions! Start on all fours with your head up, then exhale as you push your head down and suck your stomach in. Imagine curling up as much as possible without moving your arms and legs, then stretching out as much as possible.
7. Upper Back Stretch
This exercise will help you to strengthen your back, which will definitely need a bit of a release from the strain of carrying baby around. Just sit down with your legs crossed, and put your hands behind your head. Stay in a neutral position at first, and breathe in gently. As you exhale, draw your stomach in and extend your upper back whilst looking upwards. Squeeze your shoulder blades downwards then draw in a breath. As you exhale, return gentle to the starting position.
With these exercises, you can keep your back and core in good working order, as well as get some much-needed relaxation time.
James Norwick is a physiotherapy expert, a staunch supporter of physical activity and a blogger, often sharing his thoughts and ideas on behalf of Bend + Mend. James believes in the power of staying fit and constantly advocates the idea of exercising regularly.